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Meet Matts Benson of PrettyBoy&Co

Hi Matts, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I was born and raised in Berkeley, California in 1999. Fashion and sneakers have always been something to which I was drawn, especially when I started playing basketball at age 10. Close to our home in Berkeley were two sneaker stores that I would go to almost every day. I didn’t have any money to purchase the sneakers but I formed relationships with the employees who worked in the store. When I was 13, I had finally saved enough money to buy my first pair of Jordan’s. Every single second of my free time was spent memorizing and looking online at the newest sneakers. Eventually, I started growing my collection however I always ran out of money. This lack of funds pushed me to get into reselling shoes. I needed a way to support my habit. My good friend Cam was also very interested in buying and selling shoes as well. He helped me to learn to sell and to trade my sneakers online through Facebook and eBay. I would wake up early and wait outside local stores for hours just to secure the newest sneaker release. My business grew and I started employing friends to camp out for me so I could secure more pairs. By this point, all the profit I made from selling shoes was reinvested into the newest sneaker release. Sneakers were growing in popularity and the resale business started to explode around 2014. I started at Bishop O”Dowd High School in 2014.

At that time, I began traveling throughout the Bay Area and in California to sneaker shows such as Dunkxchange and Sneakercon. As a vendor at these events, I sold and traded my sneakers. I was also playing basketball at my high school so I juggled a sneaker business, school and basketball weekly. I started really taking sneakers seriously when I finished my last year of varsity basketball as a senior. During my senior year, I traveled to Los Angeles Sneakercon with a car packed full of 150 pairs of sneakers. I sold every single pair that weekend at the event. This taste of success pushed me to want to move to LA and go to college at LMU. In 2017 I graduated from high school. After a few visits to LA in 2016 and 2017, I fell in love with the city and knew I had to go to school here. I choose Loyola Marymount University here in LA to continue my education and as the place to build my business. LMU was perfect for me because of the size and location. As a freshman in college, I immediately got to work in LA networking with various celebrities and influencers to grow both my sneaker business and my clothing brand Prettyboy & Co. which I started my junior year in high school with my friend Jaffer Ali. It began as a lifestyle brand that featured our classic script logo on T-Shirts and hoodies.

Eventually, the brand expanded into custom shorts, jackets, and accessories. The brand’s catchphrase “Your Plug’s Plug” came from our ability to get any limited edition sneaker. It didn’t take long to figure out that my dorm room could not fit the clothing merchandise and sneaker inventory. To accommodate my growing inventory and businesses. I started off small and leased a 4’ x 5’ storage unit for my sneakers and the brand apparel. Every couple of months, I was pushing the limits of the storage space. I needed to upgrade to a bigger storage unit as I continued to run out of space. Finally, I settled on the largest unit in the building, a 10’ x 20’ foot space. This storage unit felt huge. It gave me space to run both businesses. Countless hours were spent shipping orders and taking pictures of the inventory in this storage unit. It quickly became my home away from home. In 2020 my businesses continued to grow and I ran out of space again. It was time to step away from just having a storage unit. I had to find a solution. The result was a warehouse space with an office. Many people had encouraged me to open a store but I liked the freedom of an online business. This ended up being a great choice especially during a pandemic. After a long process of approvals, I finally signed the lease for my first warehouse and office in August.

At 21 years old, I had to jump through many hoops and hurdles to get approved for a commercial space. Having a solid online following has been crucial today and also much safer for my and my clients’ health. I have continued to market sneakers through my Instagram page and online outlets. The pandemic has proved to be very profitable for the sneaker business. Sales have skyrocketed 500 percent since March 2020. During the last three years in Los Angeles, I have leveraged my deep roots in the sneaker community to build a foundation for the brand. I played basketball most of my life so to build the brand’s presence I have connected with a number of the top basketball players to dress them in our merchandise. I continued my networking and it has paid off. Now the likes of Lamelo Ball, Bronny James, and Trae Young have been seen wearing Prettyboy & Co on numerous occasions. Music industry leaders such as Lil Mosey, Tee Grizzley, and 24KGoldn have also been spotted in the gear.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My road has been anything but smooth. I had no business experience going into either of these businesses. I was also very young when I started my companies. I had to go through things that most people my age never had to deal with. There were many times I was discouraged and felt like I couldn’t do it. I had to push through that and always see the bigger pictures. I’ve lost thousands of dollars in lost shipments through the mail where pairs went missing. I’ve also been scammed and not gotten the sneakers I purchased. Some of these losses were very large dollar amounts but I had to accept the losses. I learned from every loss and they’ve all shaped me into the business person I am today. Having the experiences I had at such a young age helped prepare me better for life as an adult on my own. Doing everything on your own can be very difficult but rewarding. I’m still learning and still will make mistakes.

We’ve been impressed with PrettyBoy&Co, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
PrettyBoy&Co is a lifestyle brand that provides some of the cleanest apparel in the game. Our merchandise is top quality and is always provided in limited quantities. PrettyBoy will always be marketed as a brand that is exclusive and hard to get therefore making it special and sought after. On the sneaker side of things, I have an app launching by the end of the year. It will offer all of the rarest sneakers for sale on an easy to use platform. The app will launch around the holidays providing a unique shopping experience. The customer will get limited edition authentic shoes quicker than on any other online website or app. I’ve been working on this project for the last year and I’m very excited for it to come to fruition. I think it will make waves in the way people shop for sneakers. I’m known as the Plug so this app will further bolster that reputation.

What matters most to you?
I think my family and staying humble and true myself means the most to me. I want to be able to provide jobs and opportunities to the people closest to me. I want my businesses to be bigger than just me. I’m looking forward to using my platform to better my community and give back to the less fortunate. I am someone who is very self-motivated. Consequently, I’m excited to see what I achieve when I put my head to it.

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Image Credits

Tristan Willis

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